Sunday, February 27, 2011

Whose blessing to claim?

We got to the church a little early in order to arrange some decorations in the hall where we were having the simple reception afterwards. We put photos from our wedding on the tables, scattered some colored glass, and set candles. We both wore simple skirts and blouses, so there was no need for elaborate wardrobe preparations.

The Church campus is all so familiar now, so we didn't think twice about going down the back stairway, along the narrow corridor past the thurifer's closet and up the two steps to the sacristy to talk to our friend the verger, and find our photographer, and speak to the organist.

We walked up the aisle in the simple procession holding hands, surrounded by friends: the verger, the thurifer, the crucifer, two acolytes, three priests. We only had a small number of guests, fewer than 50. So instead of letting them be swallowed up by the large nave, everyone sat together in the warm space of the chancel, only a few steps apart.

There was a simple Liturgy of the Word, and then the Dean stood for his homily, which he addressed directly to the two of us. He began by invoking those who were not with us in person, which brought a few tears from both of us, and then talked about what it meant to be who we were, where we were, and how people had fought to get church to this place. And then he reflected on the readings we had chosen, and the lessons they gave us two about living generously, and living up to the values of the community. Sent straight and true into the heart, as always, and everyone commented afterwards how moving it was.

Then the ritual, as we reaffirmed our vows, and held out our hands for the blessing of our rings, and then knelt so that the Dean and the SubDean could bless us. An enthusiastic Peace followed, and we carried the bread and wine a few steps to the altar as our friend C. sang the wedding hymn * from Handel's opera Ptolemy. We stood behind the altar watching as the Subdean celebrated a sung Eucharist in her lovely clear voice, and Communion was served, before the organist sent us down the aisle with a joyous noise.

My family was not there, due to illness and the aftermath of my Dad's death , and I missed them. We had a few close friends and some of BP's family. But most of the guests were Cathedral friends, who have been close parts of our journey into the community. And it occurred to both of us that this was family too.

Like families everywhere, we gathered around a table. Isn't that where the family always sorts things out? In some way, we are like prodigals. BP is the lesbian daughter, who at one time was not fully accepted, but is now warmly welcomed to the family table, along with her wife. We are now part of the shared joys, sorrows, and responsibilities of community life.

And while we were asking our family for their blessing, claiming it, if you will, I realized that our marriage was in turn being claimed, being owned by this community. It wasn't just about the gift they were giving us, but making us and our marriage a gift to them.

When I wrote about our wedding in 2008, I commented that one of the things that struck us was the sense that marriage made us a thread in the tapestry of civil community, and added to its strength. Prop8 tried to cut that thread loose.

But this community, this family, yesterday deliberately took that thread, wove it in tighter, and moreover made it an integral part of the design.

And that's not only amazing, but very humbling.



*The recording, alas, is not of C. Thanks to our friend H. for the photos.

Thanks to Elizabeth Kaeton for including us in her moving reflection
Thanks to Grandmere Mimi for words of blessing 

14 comments:

it's margaret said...

And you continue to be a blessing to us all. Many happy returns of the day to the both of you, your families and community!

Ann said...

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

JCF said...

[I'm so sad to have missed it :-( ---but enough about me.]

So wonderful. Thank you for letting us share in it, via your story.

But hey . . . why aren't you & BP on a Second Honeymoon now? ;-)

Blessings, blessings, blessings!

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

Will there be photos?

¡Felicidades!

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Mazel tov!

Erika Baker said...

Thank you for this wonderful post.
I love the thought that the blessing is given both ways, that the gift is a mutual gift from the church to you and from you to your congregation.

Congratulations!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I'm simply breathless at this simply beautiful reflection on most an amazing moment for you.

Brava! Mazel Tov! L'chaim!

Long life and deep love to you both!

JCF said...

But this community, this family, yesterday deliberately took that thread, wove it in tighter, and moreover made it an integral part of the design. And that's pretty amazing, and very humbling.

...said like a true Episcopalian. ;-)

Counterlight said...

Congratulations and Blessings!
I second the request for photos.

Chris Harris said...

"...And while we were asking our family for their blessing, claiming it, if you will, I realized that our marriage was in turn being claimed, being owned by this community. It wasn't just about the gift they were giving us, but making us and our marriage a gift to them..."

Right on sister!
XXOO

Grandmère Mimi said...

(((Susan!))) Thank you for your wonderful story of a beautiful day. I'd love to have been present to celebrate the blessing of the shared love between you and BP. You are part of a wider family, too, for better or for worse, your online family. We love you and BP and are pleased to weave you two into the thread of the tapestry of the online community.

IT, I'm so happy that you choose to take your place amongst us as our token atheist. ;-)

JCF said...

Hey, just saw the wedding (I mean "Blessing") pic: nice!

{{{IT&BP}}}

Mary Clara said...

I saw the gorgeous photo at MadPriest's and it brought tears to my eyes, but when came over here and read this I really bawled!

I am holding your beautiful insights in my heart as I pray for the success of the marriage bill that is now heading for a vote in the Maryland House of Delegates. If only it could be understood by the fearful that giving dignity and legal standing and religious blessing to same-sex marriages would benefit the whole community!

Love to you both, and thank you for including us.

Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, IT, for the link to this post. I don't think I had seen it before. Your reflections remind me of the Episcopal Church's title for its study of SSBs: "I will bless you, and you will be a blessing." That's the part of your reflection that I particularly like: that the blessing moves both ways -- the community blessing your covenant, and your faithful lives together being a blessing to your parish.

Thank you for linking to that account of your blessing liturgy, which you told so beautifully.